Updated: Apr 22, 2021
Feeling overwhelmed, stressed or anxious, are indications that the person is in a fight-or-flight mode (activated Sympathetic Nervous System - SNS) too much of the time. They can be eating the most organic-clean-expensive meat and vegetables, but their bodies won't be able to fully absorb the nutrients.
The chemical reactions that happen in the body triggered by running from a snake (=STRESS) or being under financial difficulties (=STRESS), for instance, are the same. This uses up certain nutrients and eventually can result in illnesses like acid reflux, arthritis, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart attacks, IBS, panic attacks, and many others.
The vagus nerve represents the main component of the parasympathetic nervous system, which oversees a vast array of crucial bodily functions, including control of mood, immune response, digestion, and heart rate. The Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS) is our rest and digest, heal and repair system, which is important to maintain homeostasis 1️⃣. A healthy autonomic balance (PNS activation and SNS deactivation) makes people feel more calm and relaxed, increases nutrient absorption, and reduces inflammation within the body.
Here are 7 simple things you can do to improve your health stimulating the Vagus Nerve:
1. Having some Me Time, Meditating and practising Mindfulness can help keep your vagus nerve toned. You don't need any fancy equipment to start observing your thoughts, enjoying being in the moment or doing something that brings you joy, just make it a priority (even 10-15 minutes a day) and choose what works for you. A few examples are: guided meditation, painting, getting a facial, playing an instrument, arts and crafts (like embroidery), chatting to a friend, going for a walk in nature, having a bath, reading, and coloring books.
2. Mindful Eating – As ⅓ of our stomach acid is released just from our senses, it is really important to sit down, smell, take a deep breath, and look at your food before starting your meal. Be calm and chew the food many times before swallowing it. When you are at home, make an effort to have a family meal, with a relaxing song in the background, maybe some candles, and without TV.
3. Gargling – Throat gargling habits with tap water or saline can stimulate the muscles of the palate, and consequently the Vagus Nerve. Throat gargling 3 times a day, which is cost-free, could also reduce the viral load in the throat of patients with upper respiratory tract infection (UTRI) by 36% 2️⃣.
4. Singing, Mantra Chanting and Religious Chanting – Singing has been proved to significantly decrease anxiety 3️⃣. A sensation of vibration is experienced during audible ‘OM’ chanting and this has the potential for Vagus Nerve stimulation 4️⃣. Autonomic and respiratory studies suggest that there is a combination of mental alertness with physiological rest during the practice of Om meditation 5️⃣. My favourite mantra is Moola Mantra Blessings, by Paz. You can listen to her song clicking here.
5. Reflexology and massage – According to Teruyoshi Hoga 6️⃣, massage provides well-being of the system mainly from the brain, having the effect of tranquility, improving hearing and the vision. It also regulates the blood circulation of the brain by increasing the supply of cerebral oxygen, and is efficient for regulating the function of the cortex. At the end of the 10th application of Foot Reflexology, a research with Parkinson patients showed 72% improvement in movement, 70% improvement in bradykinesia, 60% improvement of tremors in upper limbs, and 80% of lower limbs 7️⃣. You can start with a home foot massage or search for professional reflexology services if you wish.
6. Mind-Body exercising like Yoga and Tai Chi Chuan are known for improving general physical function (balance, strength, and flexibility) and reducing symptoms of depression, anxiety, migraine, fibromyalgia and osteoarthritis, to name a few. Another activity you can practise at home is Body Balance, which combines simple yoga moves and embraces elements of Tai Chi and Pilates.
7. Deep Breathing – Vagus Nerve activity is modulated by respiration 8️⃣. So doing breathing exercises regularly can activate this mechanism and have beneficial effects on mental and physical health. All you need to do is take a break for few minutes a day in a quiet place and focus on your breathing (breath in and breathe out). If you need extra support check Adriene’s channel. She is a very talented yoga instructor and has A 30 Days Of Conscious Breath series to help you getting into this healthy habit!
There are also a couple of natural remedies, including Homeopathy, Homeobotanicals, Herbal Tinctures, Tissue Salts and health Supplements that can support your recovery and lift your mood. Please have a look at my Services page and get in touch if you would like to book a consultation.
🍋 Love, Juli 🌷
6️⃣ HOGA, T. Seitai Preventiva e Seitai Corretiva - Massagem Estética e Massagem Terapêutica. Icone Editora, 2002.
7️⃣ Vagus Nerve as Modulator of the Brain–Gut Axis in Psychiatric and Inflammatory Disorders. Efeitos combinados da reflexologia podal com o tratamento convencional nos pacientes portadores da doença de Parkinson.